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All the fun of kebabs without the sticks.

Who's everyone's favorite Next Food Network Star? Aarti, of course! And best of all: she's actually awesome. Make her delicious everyday recipes from her new cookbook, Aarti Paarti, streaked with Indian and Middle Eastern influence, and enjoy her stories while you're at it. Kebab sliders? Finally!

Some of these recipes come together so easily. A half-thought becomes a flash of inspiration in the shake of a pepper mill. Others are much more difficult. Arduous. ANNOYING. This is one of those. I’d promised myself to keep things simple and just stick to my instincts, but instead, I second-guessed myself into a corner. Umpteen permutations of this kebab slider ran through my head. The first batch was so bad that it literally, no exaggeration, made me gag. Oh my. Now what? I found myself in a puddle on my tiny little back porch, my head dropped below my hunched shoulders in utter defeat. As I often do when I feel hopeless, I began to pray for just one idea, just one piece of inspiration. Nothing. After yet another deep sigh, I went back to my computer and looked around for more ideas.

Suddenly a thought took my mind captive: “What do you, Aarti, want to eat?” it asked. “Forget about imagining what readers, critics, fellow colleagues might think about it. What do YOU want to eat?”

Well, I had a hunch about what I wanted but… wasn’t it too complicated? Too time-consuming? Wouldn’t people say it was too much trouble? That I was too much trouble? See, this is how personal food is to me—you like it, you like me. You don’t like it? You don’t like me. Silly, I know. But it’s the kind of thing that’s hard to shake.

“What do you want to eat?” the question insisted. Alright, fine. I’ll try it, I thought.

The minutes flew by as I purred over every step in the process, sighing over the date-tamarind chutney, exclaiming at the juxtaposition of the cool, creamy yogurt and the fresh pepperiness of the arugula. I was truly enjoying the experience, whispering a thank-you to the heavens at every turn for the pure joy of making this little burger.

And finally, lips smacking at the stacked beauty before me, I took a bite. I closed my eyes and chewed slowly. Oh yes. This was good. Sure, it took a few extra steps to make, but damn the torpedos! This is what I like to eat. I'm learning to accept that's good enough.

Reprinted with permission from Aarti Paarti